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Small Details You Missed In M3GAN

The reviews are in, and "M3GAN" is a definite success. Starring Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, and Ronny Chieng, "M3GAN" tells the story of its titular android (voiced by Jenna Davis) being assigned the task of befriending an orphaned young girl named Cady (McGraw) and eventually taking her primary objective entirely too far.

With backing from acclaimed horror movie creator James Wan and a screenplay by "Malignant" writer Akela Cooper, there was always a reason to be optimistic about "M3GAN." On the other hand, creepy doll movies run the risk of being too silly and over-the-top to work well for any audience. Luckily, director Gerard Johnstone knew exactly how to balance the goofy with the horrifying. Not only did Johnstone sneak in a dance sequence that turned "M3GAN" into a viral meme, but he also managed to provide some genuinely chilling sequences throughout the movie.

The slightly ridiculous concept at the heart of "M3GAN" works because the film is so well thought out. Every scene is packed with small details, and the movie contains more than a handful of nods to some pop culture classics. Even the most attentive viewer was probably too distracted by the outrageous dances and shocking sequences to catch every under-the-radar reference that "M3GAN" sneaks into its short runtime, but we've taken the time to round up all the small details you missed below.

Perpetual Pets have real life inspiration

"M3GAN" takes place in an indefinite near-future where robots have become common enough to be incorporated into regular children's toys. The movie frames M3GAN herself as being a massive step forward for the field of robotics, but it also opens with a commercial for a robotic toy that's just a hair more advanced than the toys we see today. That said, this imagined future of the toy industry has very clearly pulled inspiration from our present.

The ad for Perpetual Pets wouldn't look at all out of place in the real world, and the pet brand itself seems to be borrowing pretty heavily from two different pre-existing toys. The logo for Perpetual Pets is almost an exact copy of Hasbro's FurReal Friends logo. The pets don't look much like real animals, but their design isn't at all far off from Furbies, which also happen to interact with their owners in a similar way that Perpetual Pets do. 

Assuming that "M3GAN" is supposed to take place in our universe, Gemma's company Funki might be facing copyright lawsuits left and right. That is, as long as their androids don't kill off the company's entire executive staff first.

Gemma's foreshadowing toy collection

"M3GAN" does a great job of making its technological inventions fit into the real world. Perpetual Pets and Elsie the virtual assistant are the movie's original creations, but they really feel like ideas borrowed from reality. As a result of the way the film effortlessly blends its fiction with fact, it's easy to overlook a small pop culture nod tucked into Gemma's toy collection.

Gemma has a number of collectibles that she tells Cady aren't meant to be played with. The collection creates a bit of tension between Gemma and her niece early in the film, but one specific toy functions as a sci-fi reference and a bit of foreshadowing all at once. There's a boxed Robby the Robot — a character from the 1956 sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet" — replica sitting on Gemma's shelf.

The toy might not be the most expensive collectible out there, but it is valuable enough that a knockoff once sold for hundreds on "Pawn Stars." Beyond that, it shows just how far Gemma's obsession with robotics goes. "Forbidden Planet" might have been before Gemma's time, but she must have seen it at a young age and grown up wanting to design an autonomous robot of her very own. M3GAN might have turned out to be a psychotic murderer, but on the bright side, she helped Gemma achieve a lifelong dream.

M3GAN has Terminator vision

Unfortunately, M3GAN has a lot more in common with the killer AIs from "The Terminator" franchise than she does with Robby the Robot. Obviously, Gemma never intended for M3GAN to become a killer, but the android's designer did accidentally give her creation some distinctly Terminator-esque features. When M3GAN is first introduced in the film, she doesn't have a face or any skin, and the way her face mask sags when it's initially put on her definitely looks a lot like a melting Terminator.

The similarities don't stop there. Beneath the surface, M3GAN is even more like the famous killer robot. The movie repeatedly shows scenes from M3GAN's point of view, and her internal readout gives her access to all sorts of biometric data about the people around her and even displays a prediction of what their current mood and state of mind might be. M3GAN's heads-up-display isn't optimized for combat, but that doesn't stop it from looking like the Terminator's own view of the world. 

Next time, if Gemma doesn't want her robot to start offing anyone who wrongs it, maybe she should give it a less creepy lens for viewing the world.

M3GAN can dream

As the movie progresses, M3GAN's behavior gets more human and more alarming. When Gemma first brings M3GAN home, the robot watches the people around her and mimics their actions, although at first only to a small extent. However, she slowly begins making her own decisions until she eventually becomes entirely self-sufficient and doesn't even respond to basic commands.

The movie hints at M3GAN's developing consciousness in several ways, highlighting how she's becoming more like a human being -– albeit a human being that doesn't have a problem with outrageous acts of violence. The clearest sign that M3GAN is breaking free from her original programming comes when the camera pans over her face in the middle of the night.

The movie shows M3GAN's eyes twitching rapidly while she "sleeps" on her charging port. The motion looks a lot like REM sleep, which is the sleep stage where humans have dreams. Whether or not M3GAN is actually dreaming never gets cleared up in the film, but considering how self-aware she becomes by the end of the film, it seems reasonable to assume that M3GAN is indeed an android dreaming of electric sheep.

Error 409

Most people who sit down to watch "M3GAN" for the first time probably know from the beginning that the titular android won't be a peaceful childhood companion for the entire movie. Even though the movie's trailer advertises M3GAN's eventual homicidal turn, there's still some foreshadowing of her fate tucked into the background of the film — even though only the most tech-minded audience members probably caught onto it.

M3GAN and Cady first meet each other in a product testing area turned playroom at Gemma's office. The room is filled with art supplies, books, stuffed animals, and other toys for M3GAN and Cady to play with. The room also holds a handful of large blocks with numbers and letters, and one particular stack of blocks seems to be extra important.

The numbered blocks are arranged to read 4-0-9 upside-down, which might seem like a random data set to most viewers. However, some tech-savvy audiences probably recognize it as an HTTP error code. The code simply means a request can't be processed because there's a conflict. And M3GAN certainly creates plenty of that in Cady and Gemma's household, and then the world at large.

M3GAN's a secret Shrek fan

One of the biggest mysteries in the movie is how M3GAN learns so much about the world. Obviously, Gemma and her team programmed M3GAN to start out with a base level of knowledge, and M3GAN demonstrates her capacity to learn by observing the world around her. The movie also implies that M3GAN also learns from the internet, although we don't exactly know if she experiences scrolling through timelines or reading wiki pages the way that regular humans do.

What we do know is that M3GAN knows much more about the world than she lets on, and she also apparently has an affinity for pop culture. At one point in the film, M3GAN terrorizes a young boy who is bullying Cady by tearing off one of his ears and chasing him through the woods. Fans noticed that one of M3GAN's lines in the scene is almost identical to a line from the first "Shrek" movie.

Has M3GAN been rewatching the "Shrek" franchise with Cady, or has she been going through the films on her own time? Whatever it might be, it seems that the line worked its way into M3GAN's robotic consciousness, and this encounter in the woods isn't the last time that M3GAN makes a pop culture callback that seems to come out of left field.

M3GAN's deep-cut lullaby

M3GAN's love of dancing became a meme that helped launch her film to box office success, but anyone who's seen the movie knows that M3GAN isn't just a great dancer, she's also a well-rounded musician. Aside from the many violent kills and disturbing moments in "M3GAN," the biggest surprise was just how many musical numbers were packed into the film.

When Cady tells M3GAN about the loss of her parents, M3GAN sings her a song about friendship and love. Later in the film, M3GAN sings a lullaby that ends up leading to one of the most shocking and hilarious moments in the entire movie. After emphatically telling Cady that the boy who was bullying her didn't go to heaven when he died, M3GAN busts out a tune that probably left a good share of audience members scratching their heads.

The song likely sounded familiar because it was a major pop hit — back in 2011. M3GAN sings Cady "Titanium" by David Guetta, apparently as a way of teaching Cady that killing bullies is a-okay in M3GAN's book. M3GAN's song choice is equal parts baffling and spectacular, and it reinforces the idea that she has her own set of eclectic tastes when it comes to pop culture.

M3GAN takes some horror movie motivation

Sometimes M3GAN purposefully makes a reference to a popular movie, but other times it seems like she's unintentionally drawing from humanity's cinematic past. Just moments before M3GAN's infamous hallway dance and the brutal murders of David and his assistant, the android just makes an indirect reference to one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Anyone who's seen "The Shining" has to notice the stark similarity between the shot of M3GAN standing in the red hallway and the iconic shot of the Grady twins from Kubrick's classic film.

It might just be a coincidence that M3GAN mirrors "The Shining" before really getting her killing spree going. Then again, M3GAN seemingly has enough self-awareness to realize that, at least from the perspective of the human around her, she's transformed into a horror movie villain. Maybe her posing in the hallway is a sign that she's ready to finally embrace her role as the movie's true antagonist. Whatever the in-universe explanation is, the filmmakers behind "M3GAN" took the opportunity to include a nod to one of the true greats of the genre.

And she's apparently a true Kubrick fan

"The Shining" isn't the only Stanley Kubrick film that had a clear influence on "M3GAN." Among other things, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is one of the best movies about an AI taking its prime directive too far. HAL 9000 is a ship-based computer designed to assist humans on a mission to explore the stars, but when the original plan goes awry, HAL actually ends up threatening the life of the human it was supposed to help.

M3GAN's journey doesn't exactly mirror HAL's, but her words do. Near the end of the film, Cady has a change of heart and decides that M3GAN needs to be stopped. She orders M3GAN to shut down, but the android responds, "I'm afraid that won't work anymore." Any fan of "2001: A Space Odyssey" recognized the similarity between that line and HAL's unforgettable response when Dave asks him to open the pod bay doors. HAL has inspired countless robotic villains over the 50-plus years since he first graced the big screen. With her line in this movie, M3GAN proves the point that great (robotic) minds think alike.

M3GAN's got a Portal voice

"M3GAN" clearly riffs on other movies that feature an AI big bad, but not every one of the movie's influences landed on the big screen. Fans of the film pointed out on Twitter that M3GAN's distinctive voice sounds an awful lot like the AI characters from the "Portal" franchise.

Adding just a bit of autotune to a human voice goes a long way toward making it sound sinister and robotic. "M3GAN" pairs that technique with the voice acting talents of Jenna Davis to phenomenal effect. M3GAN's dance moves might be the most memorable part of her character, but her overall menace and personality are entirely sold by her signature voice.

There's another small vocal detail that audiences might easily overlook on a first watch. M3GAN's voice becomes noticeably less human as she becomes more violent and obsessive. In the movie's calmest moments, M3GAN really does sound awfully human, which definitely helps Cady form such a strong bond with her. However, by the time that M3GAN is stabbing and slicing through anyone who gets in her way, she almost sounds like GLaDOS when she delivers a terrifying, yet somehow still humorous, monologue.